What Happens When a Society is Diverse?

Author: Sicakkan, Hakan G. and Yngve G. Lithman, editors
With its interdisciplinary and multi-paradigmatic approach, this book aims to bring our thinking about diversity one step further towards making coexistence and politics in diverse societies possible. Diversification in our societies takes place on at least three levels. On the societal level, one can speak of a multitude of cultural/social groups. On the group level, the multitude and intersectionality of individual belongings comes to the fore. On the individual level, the mobility of individuals’ minds between different references of identification becomes a crucial element in theorizing the diverse society. What happens in society, politics, and communicative public spaces when the society is diverse in these terms?

Much of the recent intellectual and policy work has not been able to comply with societies that are increasingly diverse and groups/individuals whose relations with political institutions are becoming more complex than ever. By focusing on social groups and individuals with multidimensional and shifting identities, which are structured along the intersections of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, ideology, physical disability, generation, mobility and migrancy, this volume aims to increase the understanding of the complex relations in diverse societies between humans, social groups, and political institutions. The different chapters of the book bring into focus an array of experiences with diversity and, taken together, they contribute to an understanding of the complex realities of living in diversity.

To provide a solid interdisciplinary basis for theorizing diversity, the book brings together the conceptual and methodological tools of political theory, social theory, history, political science, sociology and social anthropology. In this book, scholars with unique competencies share their knowledge on the topic and provide novel angles for thinking about coexistence and politics in diverse societies.


“At first glance, one might think that the interdisciplinarity of the scholars in this volume would be too diverse a mix to yield benefits, despite their scholarly interest in topics related with identity and diversity. However, when finishing reading this volume, the productive results are obvious, as researchers from diverse sets of orientation are brought together in an organized way towards a common goal. While each chapter is a ‘stand-alone’ contribution to the literature, the breadth and depth of the topics covered demonstrates both the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead as we attempt to gain a better understanding of diversity in contemporary society, and how multidisciplinary approaches can yield synergistic effects. The result in this book is a capturing robustness of the debate surrounding diversity and state practices.” – (from the Commendatory Preface) Professor James S. Frideres, University of Calgary, Canada

“The resurgence of immigration in the late 20th century and the political emergence of gender groups, gays, indigenous groups and people with disabilities have posed serious questions about who belongs where. For example, is it necessary that a migrant or gay in the 21st century conform to a prior collective identity to belong? Or can political action by a disenfranchised minority help shape the nation states identity? ... Academics, students and policy makers now can inform themselves about the roles of identity politics, the politics of identity and modes of belonging by reading a series of cogently written essays in this volume which reach across the 19th to the 21st century in both European and North American contexts.” – Professor Don J. DeVoretz, Simon Fraser University, Canada

“This is a well-edited and timely collection, addressing political, social and cultural problems in today’s world that are of primary significance both to individuals, groups and political regimes: problems pertaining to how and why people identify, construct their belongings (or have them constructed for them), take advantage of their citizenship status, are marginalized or recognized, and, not least, try to deal with the constraints politically imposed on their frequently multiple and variable senses of belonging by shaping new, composite and boundary-transgressing identities for themselves ... This book helps both political actors, individuals concerned with perceived disjunctures between citizenship and belonging, and scholars in a variety of disciplinary fields to think differently, more imaginatively about these core issues – and hopefully to develop a more sophisticated semantics for coping with them, practically and theoretically.”– Professor Ulf Hedetoft, Aalborg University, Denmark

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables
1. Introduction: Diversity and Multidimensional Identities – Yngve G. Lithman and Hakan G. Sicakkan
2. Identity and Sociology – Hildur Ve
3. Ethnic Entrepreneurs: Identity Politics Among Pakistani Students in Norway – Mette Andersson
4. Beyond “Man”: In Defense of Multidimensional Identities – Randi Gressgård and Christine Jacobsen
5. Deaf Identities: Visible Culture, Hidden Dilemmas and Scattered Belonging – Jan Kåre Breivik
6. Glocal Spaces as Prototypes of a Future Diverse Society: An Exploratory Study in Six European Countries – Hakan G. Sicakkan
7. McJihad: Globalization, Radical Transnationalism, and Terrorism of the Diaspora – Yngve Georg Lithman
8. The Struggle for Recognition – A Conceptual Framework – John Erik Fossum